Cross Country teams find competitive spirit in North Newton

By KAITLYNN LITTLE, reporter
Monday, Sept. 24, 2018

Photo Courtesy of Anita Barnhart

Sterling College Men’s and Women’s Cross Country team raced across North Newton’s flat landscape Saturday morning to cap off their second meet of the season.  

The Muthama-Rogers Invitational meet began at 9 a.m. and proved to be a race that cultivated their competitive spirit and rewarded their training.   

“We have made a ton of progress the last two weeks in between meets,” head coach Jack Dillard said. “I was very thankful to see them get out and compete and be aggressive even though we trained through the week and they were racing on tired legs. They have responded well to the challenges and today they showed they are willing to step up and do what they need to improve.”

Senior Abby Reed thought the team competed well overall because they entered the race focused.  

“I think everyone’s goal at this point is just to compete and have a positive attitude about it, more so than having a goal of a particular time,” she said. “I noticed that everyone was more excited at this meet. At our home meet, there was a lot more nerves. But everyone, even up to the starting line, was just a lot more positive and at ease.”  

The younger runners on the team are setting goals for themselves and celebrating evidence of progress with each other.   

“Having a good two weeks of training and seeing good results is always memorable. Cross Country is such a mentally and physically challenging sport, so when I push myself to new levels that I never thought I would reach makes it so worth it. I think there is always room to improve and for me I just want to improve mentally,” said Sydney. 

“This meet was memorable because of the new course experience for all of us and I’m still learning the ropes of college sports,” freshmen Robyn Selzer said. “I’m looking forward to improving with every step I take, including times and places and just gaining more friendships.”   

Sophomore Gavin Lierz is looking forward to having the full team back and being able to run together since there have been some injuries and ineligibilities, which has been tough on the team.  

“But, even with people down we need to run for God, them, and ourselves. I run cross country because I enjoy running, and being able to run is a gift from God that allows me to realize that, with the right state of mind, anything is possible. No matter the distance,” he said.  

The runners have thoughtfully reflected on the race and are already planning how they will improve for the next meet.  

“As a team, I want us to improve on racing each other but as encouragement not as competition. I’m looking forward to competing with my team and watching everyone succeed,” Sydney said.

Coach Dillard has high expectations for the team because he knows they are capable of great things.   

“We are a very young team, and with that means a lot of inexperience,” he said. “We are taking each day to find out who we are as a team, pushing our aerobic shape, stressing our mental toughness, preparing ourselves to be the best November us we can be. Racing at this point for us is just gaining experience. We are working hard through race weeks with a long term goal of being exactly where we want to be and who we want to be at the KCAC championships.”

For a list of results, visit https://www.tfrrs.org/results/xc/14580/Muthama-Rogers_Invitational